Good morning! This week I’ll be covering recent social media stories centered around accessibility, starting with…
Since 2016, when Twitter first made it possible to write alt text, the text was only really retrievable by screen reader users. The result was that only a small fraction of images ever had alt text written for them.
In April, Twitter made it easier for all users to view alt text. The increased visibility has led to a rise in misuse. Instead of describing images, some accounts use the alt text field to “add hyperlinks, caption credits and source citations”, or “as a place to hide jokes, supplementary information or alternative captions from the main timeline”.
Critics say that Twitter bungled the roll-out, by not properly explaining the purpose of the alt text feature. It has started testing a new setting: a pop-up that gives more information and reminds people to add descriptions to their images. Some users would like to see Twitter go further, by detecting alt text misuse and flagging it to the author, by extending the 1000 character alt text limit, and by allowing people to retrospectively add alt text to images.
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